Here’s another, quicker way to roast cauliflower – broil it! This flavorful, lemony salad features charred cauliflower and toasted Italian pearl pasta.
My absolute favorite way to cook cauliflower is to roast it, and season it with assertive flavors and bold spices. Naomi Pomeroy’s beautiful cookbook Taste and Technique includes a method for broiling cauliflower until it’s deliciously caramelized and “blistered” — I didn’t waste any time trying it.
Now I’m hooked on using my broiler to achieve a smoky char on vegetables, which up until now was something I’d been doing right on my barbecue grill using a plain old sheet pan.
Using the the broiler to roast certain vegetables is much more convenient than heating up the oven, plus it’s faster. This technique works just as beautifully with broccoli florets.
I added a favorite ingredient to this recipe to make it more of a one-dish meal – fregola, a toasted round pasta shape from Sardinia that has a nice chew.
What is fregola?
Fregola is a type of toasted pasta from Sardinia, made with durum wheat flour and shaped into tiny balls the size of plump peppercorns.
Fregola can be tricky to find in grocery stores, but for this recipe you can easily replace the fregola with pearl or Israeli couscous. Toast the couscous in a dry skillet over medium heat just until it starts to turn golden, then cook in boiling water as usual.
This is an ideal salad to serve for dinner, either as a vegetarian meal or alongside fish or chicken. It’s also a great pick for a healthy grain lunch bowl.
charred cauliflower salad with fregola
Yield 4 servings
If you can't find fregola, substitute Israeli-style couscous or pearl pasta. Toast 1/2 cup of the couscous in a dry skillet over medium heat just until golden, then cook as usual in boiling water.
- 1 head cauliflower, cored, quartered and sliced into ½-inch pieces
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon dried crushed chili
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 finely chopped garlic clove
- 1/4 cup coarse fresh breadcrumbs
- Zest of 1 lemon, plus 2 tablespoons fresh juice
- 1 cup cooked fregola or pearl couscous
- 1 cup arugula or baby salad greens
- ½ cup picked Italian parsley leaves
- Fresh grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
- Adjust oven rack so that it’s 6 inches from your broiler’s heat source and preheat broiler.
- Put the cauliflower in a large mixing bowl. Add the olive oil, chili and salt. Toss to coat well.
- Put the cauliflower on the pan in an even layer. Broil for 10 - 12 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, until the cauliflower is tender and is charred in spots. The cooking time might vary depending on the power of your broiler.
- Remove from the oven and stir the garlic and breadcrumbs with the cauliflower.
- Add the lemon zest, juice, fregola, greens and parsley to the baking sheet and toss. Taste and add more salt if needed.
- Transfer to a serving bowl, and top with Parmigiano.